I was having a conversation with the birdgirl and her mother, who claimed that the word “flink” was real. Three dictionaries later, I think they’ve finally admitted that it isn’t. Anyway, their made-up verb is a combination of “flake” and “fink,” and is defined as such. To me, flink sounds like it means exactly that. So, in a roundabout way, what’s the word for THAT phenomenon?
And don’t say onomateopia.
While we’re at it, anyone have any other good examples of what I’m describing? I’m still waiting for my caffiene.
Onomatopoeia only refers to words that resemble the sound they describe. It doesn’t refer to words that, when you hear them, you can guess exactly what they mean even though you’ve never heard them before.
[ barges in ] Our two words are conflation and portmanteau … and ruthless onomatopoeia … Our three words are conflation, portmanteau, and ruthless onomatopoeia … and an almost fanatical devotion to Google … [ crickets… ] [ barges out ]
Color me surprised. That’s definately a less excepted usage, however. Is there a word other than that that works? That definition of onomatopoeia isn’t even in my dictionary at home, which isn’t a half bad dictionary.
Onomatopoeia sounds good to me. I don’t understand why we would need an additional distinction for a word whose sound is self-defining. (And how many words are there like that anyway? Per the OP, I couldn’t even begin to guess what “flink” means, so it doesn’t fit this category anyway. Even given the portmanteau base words: “flake” and “fink,” I still don’t know what it means, if it is in fact being used as a verb.)
Looking back, I apologize for perhaps the worst OP of my Straight Dope career. And, yes, I agree, the existence of a word other than onomatopoeia isn’t that important, I just really wanted to find out if one did in fact exist. Which, I’m almost willing to except, it doesn’t.
Merely combining a word, linguistically speaking, is not a portmanteau but rather a blend. Using “portmanteau” interchangeably with “blend” is a folk usage. But everybody and their brother does it, so it is rather a pointless battle to make this distinction. However, we should keep it in mind.
Words whose pronounciation sounds like an actual sound is onomatopoeia (also called a phonomime). The OP was not talking about an onomatopoeia.
Words whose pronounciation doesn’t sound like the thing, but are somehow evocative of the thing’s nature, are phenomimes.
Words whose prounounciation seems to evoke a psychological state are psychomimes.
To the OP’s question, the word “flink” is definitely a blend. Further, if you actually buy into the notion that “flink” evokes the concept of someone who both flaky and a fink, then it is also a phenomime. I am pretty sure it is not a true portmanteau, onomatopoeia, or psychomime.